ThinkOnIt Daily Devotions

We definitely need wisdom and discernment, not to mention spiritual discipline to just out everything agains the Word of God - just like the Bereans.
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Edify One Another

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 NKJV

Have your wits about you. Apply common sense. Be sober minded. What do all of these saying have in common? They all speak of using your mind. Here again in today’s verse the Bible is instructing us to use our minds by being sober and by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

God has given us several pieces of armor to use. Ephesians 6:14-18 NKJV explains:
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.â€

We are reminded that it’s the Lord’s power we are to be strong in and when we put on the whole armor of God, we are able to stand against the enemy. Look at Ephesians 6:10-11 NKJV: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.â€

God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. What a powerful verse! This one should be tucked away in our minds and hearts. When trials come, we should take it out and mediate on it. That’s what the last verse of today is saying to do – edify one another.

What does edify mean?
• American Hertige Dictionary says edify means: To instruct especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.
• Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary says: to build, construct; to establish

When we edify one another, we encourage our faith, help build a solid foundation on God’s Word and establish an immovable stance against anything trying to weaken our faith. Remember the tools God has given us to over come our enemy and use them!
Cling to What is Good

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 NKJV

There’s a lot to cover in today’s verse. However, we’re going to focus on just a few related items.

Pursue what is good
We are told in 2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.†Also in Romans 12:9 NKJV “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.†In everything, we are to be wise considering whether a thing is good or not.

Test all things
The Bereans, after hearing Paul’s teaching, searched scriptures to verify what they hear against the Word of God. Acts 17:11 NKJV “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.†We’re called to do the same thing. Don’t believe everything you read or hear, but check it out against God’s Word. I heard a quote the other day that explains this: “The best way to determine if the stick is crooked or not is to lay a straight stick next to it.†God’s Word is our straight stick.

Hold fast to what is good
In order to hold fast to what is good, one must know what is good. Jesus teaches us only God is good in Mark 10:18 NKJV “So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.†In the Old Testament, the Lord tells us to hold fast to Him alone. Deuteronomy 10:20 NKJV “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.â€

Lord God above, You are all we need. Help us be wise in all things, testing them out through Your Word. Help us cling to what is good and run from anything that would draw us away from You. In Jesus name Amen.

To wrap this up, we are to pursue God, test all things and hold fast to God alone. How’s it going for you? Are you pursuing God? Are you checking out what you hear to see if it aligns with God’s Word? Are you clinging to the Lord?
Upside Down

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 4:23-28 NKJV

God is the one who sanctifies us. It is by His power, His love, His mercy and worked through His Spirit that we are set apart for Him. When God gets a hold of your heart, you’ll never be the same. There are changes that take place.

You might not do the same things you used to. For example, you may find it uncomfortable to watch R rated movies or hang out with friends who are getting drunk all the time. You might find your thoughts on certain subjects have changed. For example, before you might have believed living with someone who wasn’t your spouse was okay. After Christ came to live in you, you realize sex outside of marriage is sin. Notice what 1 Peter 4:4 NLT says “Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you.â€

These are all outward symptoms of an inward change of heart. The disciples were charged with turning the world upside down because of their beliefs. Acts 17:6 NKJV “….These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.†Are our beliefs causing others to think about their own fate? If not, why?
Faith, Love and Patience

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 NKJV

The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Thessalonians had many of these fruit visible in their walk with the Lord. Look at what Paul says in today’s verse.

Their faith was growing exceedingly. How do you know when someone’s faith is growing? way to tell is how quickly they turn to God in prayer. Just the other day, I was explaining to my 12 year son, how God proves Himself real to me through answering my prayers. If we don’t pray, we’re not giving God the opportunity to answer us and then how can He make Himself real to us? Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.†I’m not saying that’s the only way God does things. However, I’ve found turning God and acknowledging Him in prayer is definitely how He increased my faith, little by little with each answer He provided.

The Thessalonians’ love for others was apparently very noticeable as well. How do you recognize love in someone’s life? Rather than us guessing what love is like, let’s look at how the Bible defines of love: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.†Does it mean they had all these things evident in their lives? We don’t know. But we do know that they suffered because of persecutions and tribulations. Notice the first element of love described above is about suffering and kindness. So it’s quite possible, they handled the trials appropriately – without blame, rudeness, or taking revenge.

Patience was obvious through all the trials they endured. Patience is mentioned in both the fruit of the Spirit list and in love’s definition. They had patience as they endured the difficult times in life. Patience is a result of living out of the Spirit, instead of walking in the flesh. I don’t know about you, I always seem to fail when I “try†to have patience. The harder I try to be patient, the harder it is to reach patience. That’s because it’s not something we can do on our own. We need the Spirit to guide us into patience. If you find yourself lacking in patience, stop and do a quick inventory of yourself. Do you see the fruit of the spirit or attributes of love in your life? If not, drop everything and pray. Ask God to humble your heart, show you where you’re trying to take control in your life and ask Him to help you depend whole heartedly on Him. Then rest knowing our God is good and will answer your prayers that are aligned with His will.

The Thessalonians exhibited faith, love and patience that were evident to everyone around them. Are you seeing faith, love and patience in your life? If not, turn to the Lord, acknowledge Him and He will show you what needs adjusting in your life.

Lord, thank you for loving us and taking the penalty of sin away from us. Thank you for your Holy Spirit to guide us back to you. Help us live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Let us acknowledge you in all our ways, so You will direct our paths. In Jesus’ precious name we ask these things. Amen.
Equipped and Commissioned

since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 NKJV

The righteousness of God is sometimes difficult to understand. When that conflict occurs, we need to remember, He is God and we are not. We do not know the full picture otherwise we’d side with God every time. In the verse above, it tells of God’s vengeance on those who refuse Him. The punishment for denying the Lord during our life time, will mean “everlasting destruction†when we do see Jesus Christ in that Day.

What does that stir in you? Do you shudder at the thought of people you love, who have not accepted Christ yet, being “punished with everlasting destruction� What about others you don’t know? Does it bother you at all they may be going to a place of torment?

Believers, these verses should affect you immensely. If not, you may want to stop, think and pray about why it doesn’t affect you. Jesus Christ equipped and commissioned us to share His good news with the world.

Acts 1:8 NKJV “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the end of the earth.â€

When God calls us, He also ensures we have everything we need to carry out that calling. Notice in Acts 1:8 how power is combined with the Holy Spirit. His Spirit now dwells within us giving us the power we need to live for Christ, fulfilling all He has desired for us to do.

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.†Amen.â€

What does He want us to do? I think it’s pretty clear from the Matthew verse above. He wants us to make disciples, baptize them and teach them to observe all the things Christ commanded us.

How do I make a disciple? First off, you begin by asking God to lead you to someone who wants to grow in the Lord. Next, you might keep your eyes and ears open for people around you that show signs of wanting to know the Lord more intimately. You, then, might strike up a conversation with them about the Lord and begin a relationship with them. Maybe you invite this person to a bible study for deeper look at God’s Word. As your relationship grows with this person, so does your conversation about the Lord and over time both of you will grow in your walk with the Lord.

Regarding the baptizing, while I have not personally baptized anyone, I usually leave that to my church pastor’s to do. Although, scripture indicates that we all can baptize when we’re called to. Remember, Philip and the Eunuch? He baptized the Eunuch besides a road in the middle of the desert. There’s nothing magical or sacred about baptism that only certain people within the church may perform it. It’s simply an outward symbol of the change that occurs within the heart. It’s an external declaration you now belong to Christ.

About teaching others what the Lord commanded us, this one is easy as long you, yourself are following His commands. We lead by example. We are role models for all who want to know what it means to be a Christian. Those on the outside are watching us to see if really believe all that we say about the Lord. We also teach through bible studies, and one on one mentoring. Start with living out His commands, like “Love the Lord with all your heart and Love your neighbor as yourself†and whether you go on to teach bible study or not, you are still teaching others about the Lord with your life.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us the courage to activate the power You have given us by Your Holy Spirit. Let us obey Your commands and make disciples, baptize them and teach them Your ways. In Your precious name, Jesus we pray these things. Amen.

Let’s review. The Bible is very clear there is a place of torment for those who refuse, deny and reject the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also clear that we, believers, are giving power to carry out God’s call in our lives to make disciples, baptize them and teach them to observe all His commandments. May we go on to share God’s Good News with those around us for His Glory and His Kingdom.
A Worthy Servant

Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV

How do we know God will count us worthy of our calling? Since I don’t think he’s referring to our salvation here, it may be directed more at how we use choose to our gifts, talents and resources.

Let’s read the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-29 NKJV:
““For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I
reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.â€

We each are given certain gifts, talents, abilities, resources, etc and we are expected to put those to good use. God wants us to use those things to further His kingdom. No matter we’ve been given, it should be applied to kingdom building purposes. We certainly don’t want to be found like the lazy servant in the story!

Dear gracious Lord, thank you for giving us special abilities, talents and resources to be used for your kingdom. Lead us this day how we may expand your kingdom and use our resources for your purposes instead of for selfish gain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How are you using your talents for God’s glory? Are you using it wisely and bearing godly fruit? Or are you hiding your talents out of fear? If you’re not using them, ask God to reveal it and heal your wounds so you can start building God’s Kingdom
The Great Restrainer

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12 NKJV

The Holy Spirit is around everywhere and not just inside a believer. He is present in our world around us. He holds things together. Without the Holy Spirit we would live in sheer chaos. But God is good and sent His Holy Spirit to convict people of their sins, convince people of His truth and to lead the believer in all truth.

Even Jesus reassured us of the Holy Spirit’s coming in John 16:7-15 NKJV: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.â€

Have you ever thought about how the Holy Spirit restrains? “He will convict the world of sinâ€, Jesus said. That conviction is a form of restraining evil. Every time you’re convicted of sin in your life, praise God for the Holy Spirit is restraining evil!

When I look back at my past life before I came to Christ, I now see evidence of the Holy Spirit in my life. He was there convicting me of sinful things, which lead me not to do them. He was guiding me towards a better path. I was completely unaware of Him at the time, but now I know He was there. God is so good! If the Holy Spirit works like that in a non-believer’s life, just imagine the power He has in a believer’s life.

Lord Jesus, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. Thank you for working in our lives to restrain evil and lead us back to the right path. Teach us to depend on You with each breath we take. In Your name, Jesus we ask these things. Amen.

Do you recognize the Holy Spirit’s work in your life? What about around you? As you watch circumstances unfold in the world around, know the Holy Spirit is there doing His job restraining evil and praise God!
How Did You Hear?

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 NKJV

God chose you for salvation. He sanctifies you by the Spirit and belief in truth. He called you by the gospel. You may have read the gospel on your own, or heard it read to you, or a friend may have told you. Maybe you stumbled across the gospel over the internet or found a cassette tape of God’s teaching in your car. However you heard it, God used it to reach you.

For me, I first heard the gospel in Saddleback Church’s Celebrate Recovery program. It was a strange idea to me at first – God came to earth in human flesh, died on the cross to pay for my sins, so I could receive forgiveness and eternal life. It took time to sink in before I understood the full meaning of it. (Not that you can be fully understood because God’s love is so immense!) It got me started reading the Bible, but couldn’t understand why I always cried while reading it. I soon found and began listening to a Christian radio station that broadcasted Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s program called “The Bible Busâ€, which taught the Word of God. I also started listening to Greg Laurie’s sermons over the internet. It was here that the conversion of my heart occurred. After hearing this message of forgiven from many sources, it finally reached my heart!! In February 2000 I gave my heart to Christ. He’s filled me with His Spirit and led my heart out of captivity!

The point of telling you all this, is simple. You never know what will reach a lost soul. It could be when you put your arm around a friend to comfort them. Or maybe when you read stories to the elderly in a nursing or when you told someone about a radio program that teaches God’s Word. The medium or vehicle used is not what’s important – it’s the message! In 1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.†We don’t cause people to believe in Christ, God does. However, God does use our activities to bring them closer so He can change their hearts.

Lord, thank you for leaving heaven to walk the earth as a human, so we could relate to you. Thank you for dying for our sins. Thank you for setting us free with your forgiveness. Please give us the courage to share your message of grace and hope with others today. In Jesus’ name Amen.

God wants to use you and me to reach the lost. We can do that in many ways. Are you sharing God’s message with others? If not, why?
The Tuxedo

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV

This amazing God, who loved us while we were yet sinners and died on our behalf that we might live in Him, not only gives us everlasting consolation and hope by grace, but He comforts our hearts and established us in every good word and work.

He has taken care of everything that prevents us from a right relationship with Him. Look at Isaiah 61:10 NKJV: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.†He made it possible for imperfect man to stand before perfect God, by clothing us with Jesus Christ’s righteousness. He loaned us the tuxedo so we could be presentable at the wedding feast. Only we never have to give the suit back, it’s ours to keep forever. His generosity knows no bounds.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your righteousness that clothes us. Thank you for comforting out hearts with an everlasting hope. May we accept your righteousness as simply as one might put on a suit. Thank you for all you have done for us. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

Have you accepted His gift of eternal life yet? If not, what’s holding you back? Slip on Jesus Christ and be confident standing before God in His righteousness.
Pain Along the Journey

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. 5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 NKJV

It’s all about the Lord, isn’t it? Everything is the Lord’s. He rules over it all. He is the one guiding our hearts toward Him. He gives us our very breathe. He provides for our every need. He guards us against the evil one. We do none of this on our own.

God is faithful. He will establish you. This section of scripture reminds me of 1 Peter 5:10: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.†After you have suffered a while it says. We can conclude suffering is part of growth journey. There are some things we can never learn without suffering.

In my own journey, I had to suffer the consequences of poor choices. I had many expectations in life, none of which came out the way I envisioned. I was disappointed most of the time. Then, again, I believe most perfectionists are disappointed constantly. It’s a sad condition to live in. As I became more critical of others and cynical about life, I resented everyone and I allowed bitterness to take up residence in my heart. I didn’t handle things well before and it brought me more pain, than I ever imagined.

During times of suffering, God is there, eager to show himself faithful, loving and kind. All He asks is for us to turn to Him, trust Him and He will lead us out of the difficulty, whatever it may be. I can say He was there for me. When I finally could stand no more of my life, sobbing in the shower one morning, I prayed “Jesus, I’ve messed up my life! Help me! The bible says You died for my sins and rose again to give me a new life. Please come into my life and give me a new life. Amen.†I didn’t know how my life could ever be good again, but a wonderful peace came over me anyway. He was there waiting for me to turn to Him. He was faithful to answer my prayer.

Lord, thank you for wanting to come into our lives and heal us from our poor choices. Thank you for your faithfulness to answer our prayers. Thank you for dying for our sins and rising again to give us a new life in Christ Jesus. Amen.

God will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. The bible teaches us this, but the Spirit of God living in us, confirms it in our own lives. He did for me. He will for you. Are you trusting God today? If not, ask Him to convince you how good He is. He will not disappoint!
Lazy or Wise?

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9 NKJV

Paul was not a burden to anyone. Neither should we be. Everyone must work, just as Paul worked. We are responsible for ourselves. It’s nobody else’s job. There’s plenty of NKJV scripture addressing laziness.

Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 19:15 Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, And an idle person will suffer hunger.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.

Proverbs 15:19 The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway.

We can also apply these scriptures to our spiritual walk. If we become lazy in our relationship with Christ or rely on other’s to feed us spiritual food, we run the risk of spiritual poverty and hunger. We must be diligent in our own study of God’s Word. As mentioned earlier we each are responsible for ourselves. This applies to our spiritual welfare as well. What does scripture say about being wise? It says scripture makes simple folks wise and tells us how to be wise if we listen to it. Look at the next two NKJV scriptures:

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

Proverbs 8:33 Hear instruction and be wise, And do not disdain it.

Lord, thank you for making us wise through your perfect Word. Help us to avoid being lazy in any capacity. Enable us to hear your instruction and be wise. Amen.

How are you doing with your walk? Are you relying on someone to feed you spiritual food? Are you diligent in your quiet times and studying God’s Word? If not, why? What’s stopping you?

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 NKJV

Have you ever watched the t.v. program called “Survivor� They take 16 people and put them on a deserted island for 39 days to see who will endure all 39 days without being voted off or going crazy in the process. When I read today’s scripture verse, it reminded me of an episode where one young man and two young women were not pulling their own weight around camp. They had no problem eating the food other’s had gathered or caught. They did not help with any of the real work, like searching for wood, carrying water to camp, fishing, or gathering coconuts. All they did was sit in the little hut, snuggle together and gossip about the rest of the players on the island.

Have you ever known someone who was like that? They are always eager to criticize, never willing to help anyone and always thinking about themselves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t especially like being around people like that. Do you ever feel like that?

However, Matthew 22:39 NKJV tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself†so my attitude toward people like anything but loving. Colossians 3:23 NKJV tells us to do everything as if we’re doing to or for the Lord. That’s great advice. When we apply this advice, we are more willing to do anything for the Lord, even scrubbing floors, doing laundry, paying bills, going to work, or being loving towards others you don’t feel like loving.

Father, forgive us for having the wrong attitude towards people. Help us love them as you love us. Teach us to “work in quietness and eat our own breadâ€. Enable us to being willing to do all things as if they are for You. In Jesus’name Amen.

Are you a busybody, unwilling to work? Are you criticizing others for their lack of work? Ask Jesus to help change your attitude toward others and focus on your own walk with the Lord.

13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 NKJV

For me, these verses are so clear and straight forward. Continue to do good, no matter what happens. If anyone doesn’t obey the Word, don’t hang around them, so they may be ashamed. But don’t consider them an enemy, but admonish them as a brother.

There are times when we stray from the truth we know. Your friends may be pleading with you to come back to what is right. When we do stray, there are many lessons being taught to us.

1) No matter how spiritual you think you are, you can fall just like the rest of them. Solution: Stay in God’s Word daily and stay in fellowship with other believers, who will help you be accountable. Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.â€

2) Everyone is tempted. No one is ever free from temptation. Just because you’re tempted doesn’t mean you have to sin. You still have a choice to obey God. Solution: Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.â€

3) Don’t let a slip up keep you from continuing in faith. You’re on a journey where there are many forks in the road. You have to make choices along the way. Some choices will be good ones, like reading God’s Word. Other choices will not be so good, like skipping church or bible study. Solution: Don’t be discouraged by your slip up. We all make mistakes. We all have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23 NKJV). Ask God for wisdom to make better decisions and He will give it to you.

Lord, we thank you for your beautiful forgiveness when we make poor choices. We ask you us wisdom to make better choices. Draw us close to you that we might not sin against you. May your Word dwell in us richly and guide us along your path. In Jesus’ name Amen.
Idle Talk

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 1 Timothy 1:3-7 NKJV

Have you ever known someone who appeared godly but you weren’t quite sure if they were or not? I once knew a woman who appeared godly. She not only read the Bible, but she knew many scriptures from memory. Whenever we spoke, she always brought scripture into the conversation. On the surface, those things sound okay, don’t they? However, there seemed to be something dark going on. Something I couldn’t point my finger on. I started noticing how her use of scripture always seemed to fit her situation, as though she was interpreting God’s Word to justify her plight.

The Bible teaches us that some will stray from the truth and turn to idle talk. What is idle talk? You could say anything which doesn’t build up and edify yourself or others in the truth would be idle talk. Discussions that cause doubt rather than building up your faith may be another example. Ephesians 4:29 NKJV “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.â€

Today’s scripture says some will want to be teachers of the law, yet not understanding what they say or the things which they affirm. Look at what the Bible says about the religious folks in Paul’s day. Romans 17:21 NKJV: “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?†Paul was pointing out they may have been confident they were teaching truth, yet they hadn’t really applied what they taught to their own lives. That’s being hypocritical. We have to be careful to apply what we learn from the Bible into our lives. Otherwise, it won’t be beneficial others.

Everything we do or say should be done to build up faith, either our own or someone else’s. Therefore, when we speak let it not lead to disputes, doubt or cause conflict among our fellow believers. Secondly, what we learn from the Bible must appear in our lives. We can not encourage another in truth, if we haven’t first applied that truth in our own life.

Lord, thank you for giving us the words of truth. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. May we take your truth and integrate it in our life to become the light and witness for you, which you called us to be. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.
Who on Earth is Good?

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. 1 Timothy 8:11 NKJV

Have you heard it said before that the Ten Commandments were given that we might see our own sinfulness? It’s true. Let’s look at a story in Matthew 5:16-22 NKJV to illustrate:
“Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?â€
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.â€
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?â€
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’â€
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?â€
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.â€
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.â€

This story teaches us many things.
1) Jesus clearly says NO ONE IS GOOD except GOD. That means you and me. I don’t know about you, but this was a tough pill to swallow when I was first made aware of it. My mother always taught me “as long as your good, all will be wellâ€. Yikes! Jesus says I’m not good – red alert, warning, danger!!! But wait, the story continues….

2) Jesus says keep the commandments and the young ruler asks which ones. Can you believe it? He’s looking for a short cut. Which ones? Isn’t it clear we’re supposed to keep all TEN?!? So Jesus abbreviates the list. I’m not sure why He chose these commandments, unless perhaps the root of this guy’s problem lies within one of these. The young ruler insists he has kept the law.

4) Jesus points out the guy is still missing something. Jesus wanted the young ruler’s heart. But the young ruler was too wrapped up in his possessions to give his heart to Jesus. After being told what was needed, the young ruler decided it was too high a price and walked away sorrowfully. How tragic to miss the opportunity to be with Christ over temporary material possessions!

Ready for the good news?
The Law was given to guide us towards Jesus Christ, who fulfills all the laws requirements for us. Matthew 5:17 NKJV “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.â€

When we ask Christ to forgive our sins and come into our life, the law’s requirement (wages of sin is death) is fulfilled. Christ died to pay for our sins. Christ rose from the dead to give us new life in Him. A new life ruled by Christ not by the law.

Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins? Why not? What are you waiting for? He’s ready and able to wash away your sins, take away your guilt and make you whole.

Lord, thank you for taking on our penalty of sin and making it possible for us to be right with you through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Thank you for fulfilling the law’s requirements for us, that we may know you and have an abundant life in you. In Jesus’ name Amen.
I Obtained Mercy and So Can You

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 1 Timothy 1:12-13 NKJV

Oh how this verse speaks to me personally. As I read, I can easily put my name in this verse. It might go something like this:

Elizabeth thanks Christ Jesus our Lord who has enable me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a hater of God, mocker of those who believe and disobedient to His ways; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Years ago, my husband and I used to have conversations about religion. We’d say things like, “religion is for the weak†or “religion is a crutchâ€, etc. Oh how foolish we were! Now, having been born again with God’s Spirit living in us, we are so grateful He has enabled us to believe the truth. We are weak and we do need a crutch – Jesus Christ who enables us to live rightly before God and grants us eternal life when we believe on Him. It is through Jesus we have strength, but we have to humbly accept Him. That’s hard for some. It took me 32 years!

If you ever have a hard time understanding a section of scripture, try this.
1) Pray for wisdom and understanding.
2) Make it personal. Insert your name where possible to see what it reveals. It’s a good exercise. It might be an eye-opener for you.
3) Finish by praying again, perhaps something like:

Lord, thank you for revealing your truth to me in a way I hadn’t seen before. Thank you for your Spirit to guide me through this process of discovery, giving me the courage I need to understand my weaknesses and to accept You as the Author and Finisher of our faith. In Jesus’ name Amen.
3 Ways to Examine Yourself

And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:14-17 NKJV

You’ve probably heard it said that God forgives and forgets. Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.†We humans, on the other hand never forget. With regard to our sin, that’s a very good thing. Not forgetting what we were like before we were saved is a great way to stay humble. Remembering where we came from, how we didn’t always believe and how our life was a mess before can help us have compassion and mercy towards others, just as God had with us.

Remembering our own failures and weaknesses is helpful in drawing us close to our Lord and Savior. For it He, who came to into the world to save sinners and by His strips we are healed for our sins were laid upon Him, who knew no sin. Contrasting our sinfulness with Christ Jesus’ righteousness helps us see a more accurate picture of ourselves, which in turn, helps keep us humble. The Bible ( Micah 6:8 NKJV ) tells us to walk humbly before our God.

Humility plays a key part in our relationship with Christ. He is the head and we are the body. We are under His authority and our lives are submitted to His will. Without humility, we wouldn’t submit to Him. Without humility, we wouldn’t recognize our sinfulness and our need to be saved. Without humility, we’d be prideful. The Bible
( James 4:6 NKJV ) tells us God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.

As Christians, we must examine ourselves to ensure we’re living our lives pleasing to the Lord to bring glory and honor to Him alone. Lamentations 3:40 NKJV “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.†Here’s a few things to prayerfully consider when examining your thoughts, words and actions:
1) Are my thoughts focused on good, pure, honorable, and trustworthy things? Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV
2) Are my words helpful in building others up? Ephesians 4:29 NKJV
3) Are my actions driven by godly motives or selfish desires? 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV

Lord, thank you for loving us enough to die for us when we were still sinners. Thank you for pouring out your grace, mercy and forgiveness on those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Teach us to examine our ways that we may be your witness of Christ for your glory. Help us remain humble and submitted to your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.
Sharing God Through Our Relationships

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 NKJV

Back in the New Testament times, the gospel was shared from person to person through real life situations. It wasn’t broadcast on TV, radio and the internet for those things weren’t invented yet. But God’s Word was moving, nonetheless.

Today, although we have many new technological methods of communicating, the best way to share God’s Word is still through a person to person connection. The power of relationship is strong. Depending on the kind of relationship, that power can be used for good or for evil.

Looking at Timothy’s life we see his mother and grandmother play key roles in his spiritual development. In 2 Timothy 1:5 NKJV Paul says “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.†This tells us Timothy has been instructed in God’s Word from childhood. He had role models to watch as he grew.

In our own relationships, especially with our children, we need to pass on what we know about God and faith. Teaching our children the things of God, so when they are older they will pass it on to their children and their children will teach their own children, and so on. However, to pass on God’s Word we must first know it ourselves. Look at Deuteronomy 4:9 NKJV “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren..â€

So what are some practical ideas for teaching our children? Here’s a few I use. See if they work for you:

1) Before bedtime, read a devotional and talk about afterwards.

2) Use every day occurrences to teach children how to pray.

3) Go to church on a regular basis, so your children learn from others about God as well.

4) Tell your children how God is moving in your life. Every time God answers your prayers, share it with your kids.

In conclusion, we are all commanded to share what we know about God with others. Why not start today? Teach your children now, so when they are older they won’t depart from it.
Good and Acceptable to God

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV

What is good and acceptable to God our Savior? Going to church every week, giving to charity regularly, reading your Bible and attending small group Bible Study are all good things. But what makes these things acceptable? Perhaps it is when we approach these things in prayer and seek God’s guidance before we do them.

God longs for us to turn to Him for everything. He wants to talk with us on a regular basis and that’s what prayer is for. Today’s verse addresses a few things to remember when we pray.

1) We are to give thanks. Being mindful of all that God has done for us, helps keep us grateful, so we are less likely to complain about all that isn’t going according to our plan. Giving thanks also helps us recognize God is really in control.
2) We are to pray for those in authority over us. This means we pray for our President, government officials, judges, and police officers. We pray for our boss and our workplace’s management team. We pray for our father and mother, too. If we’re married, we pray for our husbands. We ask for wisdom, knowledge and discernment so they may lead us according to God’s plan.
3) We are to pray for ourselves as well. We pray our lives are lived in godliness and reverence. This may mean we pray we are obedient to God’s commands that our lives may reflect Christ in all we think, do and say.
4) We are to pray for those who don’t know the Lord yet. We pray their hearts and minds are open to hearing God’s Word so His truth can set them free.

In a nutshell, we are to pray always for all people everywhere. How’s your prayer life? Are you in constant communication with our Lord?

Lord, thank you for being in control. Thank you for loving us and coming into our lives. We ask for wisdom and discernment for all those in authority over us so they may lead us as you desire. We pray we are obedient to your Word. We ask you open the hearts and minds of those who haven’t given their lives to you yet. In Jesus’ name Amen.